Bits from Bill

Technology thoughts leaking from the brain of "Bill Pytlovany"

Friday, April 13, 2007

Connection Not a Vista or Dell Problem

I’ve had a lot of queries and comments about my sister Mary’s new computer and the problems I had reported with her getting online. I really want to thank everyone who offered suggestions including John, a consumer advocate with Dell Computers.

I wish I could say that the problem was solved but we do have a handle on the cause which helps a little bit. Mary can connect to the Internet at her house after the purchase of a new router, but if she brings her laptop over to my home/office she needs to use a direct ethernet connection.

It’s not necessary a Dell problem or a Vista problem which was comforting since both my brother and daughter purchased new Dell laptops last month. Support on the phone from Dell wasn’t extremely helpful but they tried. A follow up exchange here with a customer advocate was a pleasant surprise although he was probably hoping I had figured out the solution. At least he could help others with the same issue and I appreciate his efforts for staying on top of things.

It turns out Mary made the mistake of wanting the best. A big WiFi/Starbucks fan Mary checked off the option for best WiFi card, an Intel WiFi 4965AGN. It works fast and furious with her new Linksys WRT350N router for her apartment. Unfortunately, the Wireless-N specification is still very new and in February was still considered a “draft” spec. It turns out the Intel WiFi 4965AGN isn’t backward compatible with my Linksys WRT54GXv2 router. I temporarily disabled 802.11b on my router which helped but not enough to matter.

John from Dell tells me things will get better.

“Sorry about that Bill. Unfortunately, n is in draft phase and has just been recently approved for standard. Since it is still draft technically, I read nothing but interoperability problems on forums and tech sites everywhere. Now that the standard has passed vote (as of March 9th), hopefully these problems will be resolved in the next revision, and with it, new firmware from all vendors.”

I still think it was dumb for Dell to be selling devices which are “draft” specs. No wonder Microsoft is being sued for their Vista capable hardware program. Apparently, we got some attention because I don’t see the same WiFi card available on the Dell web site. Dell explains the difference in WiFi standards on this page.

“802.11n (also called Wireless-N) is a next-generation wireless standard that uses the transmission and receipt of multiple simultaneous data streams (called MIMO for Multiple Input, Multiple Output) to enable data throughput and range that far exceeds the single-stream capabilities of today’s 802.11a, 802.11b and 802.11g technologies. The final 802.11n standard is expected to be released sometime in 2008.”

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Blogger Stang said...

Very curious as to how she got this to work. I just bought a Toshiba with the 4935AGN card and a WRT350N Router and I can't get the laptop to connect at N speeds. There seems to be a new driver for the card, but I was unsuccessful so far at getting it to load. Now I've got to see if I have version 1 of the 350N, the latest firmware, and the lastest driver. But good to know somewhat had success!

11:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

To tell the truth, I did not confirm that she was able to connect at N speeds.

I had read somewhere that older drivers for XP worked with it, but Dell told me they removed them.

N sounds promising but it looks like we'll all be watching for firmware updates.


12:21 PM  
Blogger A said...

I found your blog through a google search searching for reasons why my brand new Dell laptop is not conncecting wirelessly. I received my laptop a week ago and still can not connect via my Westell Versa-link model 327W. I purchased my laptop with the Dell Wireless 1500 Wireless-N card. I am thinking I am having similar problems to your sister. To your knowledge is there anything I can do? Thanks!

12:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Hi Amber,

I'm glad you found me but I'm not sure I have any good solutions yet. I would certainly make a stink with Dell. There is hope they'll have updated drivers in the near future.

My sister's solution was to purchase a new linksys router which seems to work. In her case, she didn't have one before so it wasn't an extra expense.



1:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I had the same problem, I have a Linksys Wireless N-Router and the 4935AGN. As soon as I disabled the N portion of the wireless device, it connected right up to the internet. I went to Network Connections->Properties of wireless network connection-> Configure...Advanced->802.11n Mode and disabled it. At least I get 802.11g connection. Definitly a N problem.

11:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well !it looks like computer vender , just could not wait
to sell lap tps with wireless " n " .last week i purchased
a new sonny vio (fz140e) and could not wait to buy a new "n"
router.after buying a linksys 300n and quickly had it up and
running without any problems , that is , until i decided to
make it function only on the "n" wireless option.
no matter what i did , it was not possible to connect on "n"
only , so i had to put the router into wireless mix mode.

both linksys and sonny told me that the problem rest with
microsoft vista (driver) and should be addressed later this year.

i am now thinking of returning the router but keeping the
vio computer (other than that its a great machine).

looking forward to that new driver.


6:30 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought I was going crazy - though I purchased the Vista system on an HP. After LYNSKYS B router success for 2 days - the laptop refused router & even direct connect to the internet via cable. Finally had to restore to the date of purchase. Vista no refuses to let me use the router - so back to the store for a new N version. Appreciate the info on how to make N work - sheesh
T. Adrian

2:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Glad (???) to hear I am not alone in the boat... I have a brand new DELL Latitude with Vista Business and this Intel 4965agn WLAN card and although I can connect using wifi, I do experience problems... It is most apparent when I ssh into my own server. Sometimes echoing of characters just stop and after 3-5 seconds all characters I was typin appear all at once. The same happens at office and home (different routers), but does not happen when using wired LAN or HSDPA... I tried a lot of things, incl. power management, driver update, switching IPv6 off, firewall, etc etc etc. To no avail. All other computers around me work fine.

I am thinking of calling DELL to get me a wireless card that is known to be compatible with B and G standards...

6:23 PM  

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